Death Investigation

Who:
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Patrol Operations Bureau
- Marine Unit
- Dive Team
Investigative Operations Bureau
- Robbery/Homicide Unit

Eckerd College Search and Rescue Team

United States Coast Guard

Kimberly Shawn Houtz (Deceased)
DOB: 2/3/1965
Vessel: 27ft Parker Sport Cabin Fishing Boat

Jay Bryant (Boyfriend of Deceased)
DOB: 4/25/61
Vessel: 27ft Parker Sport Cabin Fishing Boat

Mark Westbrook (Boat Captain)
DOB: 9/28/1962
Vessel: 27ft Parker Sport Cabin Fishing Boat

Brent Kempton (Boat Occupant)
DOB: 9/8/1983
Vessel: 27ft Parker Sport Cabin Fishing Boat

Warren Hunt III (Boat Occupant)
DOB: 5/25/1994
Vessel: 27ft Parker Sport Cabin Fishing Boat
 

What:
Detectives assigned to the Robbery/Homicide Unit are investigating a diving accident that killed a woman off St. Pete Beach.

When:
Deputies received the call at about 10:15 a.m. on Saturday, March 9, 2019.

The woman died at about 3:15 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, 2019.

Where:
The incident occurred in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 13 miles west of St. Pete Beach.

Why/How:
Detectives assigned to the Robbery/Homicide Unit are investigating a diving accident that killed a woman off St. Pete Beach.

According to detectives, 54-year old Kimberly Houtz and her boyfriend 57-year-old Jay Bryant, were aboard the fishing vessel “Down Under”, a 27ft Parker sport cabin fishing boat, approximately 13 miles west of St. Pete Beach.   

Houtz and Bryant were scuba diving and spearfishing with the captain of the boat 56-year-old Mark Westbrook, and two other passengers, 35-year-old Brent Kempton and 24-year-old Warren Hunt.

Detectives say the divers stopped so Houtz and Bryant could dive a popular wreck in about 37 feet of water.

Prior to entering the water, witnesses said that Houtz complained about a malfunction with her diving equipment but continued with the dive.

Witnesses told detectives that Houtz and Bryant were underwater for less than five minutes when Houtz rose to the surface of the water in obvious distress.

Occupants on the vessel assisted Houtz into the boat. Houtz complained of nauseousness, abdominal pain, and said she was having trouble breathing.

Detectives say the divers started heading back to shore as a result of Houtz’s medical issue. The vessel was underway when Houtz lost consciousness. Occupants on the boat utilized the VHF radio to call for help and started administering CPR to Houtz.

A rescue boat from Eckerd College Search and Rescue met the boat about a mile offshore. A paramedic boarded the fishing boat and utilized an automated external defibrillator (AED) and oxygen to treat Houtz while they continued to Tierra Verde Marina.

Paramedics transported Houtz from Tierra Verde Marina to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg Hospital with life threatening injuries.

The United States Coast Guard and deputies from the Marine Unit all responded to the scene.

Houtz succumbed to her injuries at about 3:15 p.m. on March 9, 2019.

Detectives conducted interviews and processed evidence at the scene.

Detectives say Houtz’s death appears to be accidental in nature.

The Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct an investigation to determine cause and manner of death.

Next of kin has been notified.

The investigation continues.

Posted by Spencer Gross Saturday, March 9, 2019 10:17:00 PM Categories: Death Investigations

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